UTICA, N.Y. - A Philadelphia man was charged yesterday with murder and 18 counts of robbery in the slaying of a New Hartford, N.Y., police officer during a $1 million jewelry-store heist three years ago.
Marion Pegese has been described as the leader of a crime group that carried out armed jewelry-store robberies up and down the East Coast. He pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and the robbery charges yesterday in Oneida County Court.
Judge Michael Dwyer adjourned Pegese's case until Friday to give him time to hire a lawyer.
"This was a tight-knit group based out of Philadelphia, and it appears he was the leader," said Assistant District Attorney Kurt Hameline.
Pegese, 36, waived an extradition hearing two weeks ago in New Jersey and was returned to New York on Friday. He had been in prison since February, when he was sentenced to 18 years in connection with a 2005 jewelry store robbery in Freehold, N.J.
Prosecutors said Pegese was one of four men who carried out an armed robbery at Lennon's-W.B. Wilcox jewelry store in New Hartford in February 2006.
Officer Joseph Corr, 30, was fatally shot after chasing two of the suspects, who crashed their car into the gas pumps at a convenience store and then tried to run away.
Police caught one, Toussaint Davis, at the crash scene. Davis, of Philadelphia, was convicted in January 2007 and sentenced to 300 years in prison as an accomplice.
Walter Richardson Jr., the man authorities said shot Corr, was killed the next day in a gunfight with U.S. marshals in Chester. Richardson's last known address was in Upper Darby.
Pegese and Robert Ward, 30, also of Philadelphia, escaped in a second car but were later arrested in Philadelphia for the New Jersey robbery. Ward also is serving an 18-year sentence for the Freehold robbery.
Hameline said Oneida County authorities hoped to bring Ward to New York in the next three to four weeks to be charged in the Corr case. The two men would be tried together, he said.